1. Archive

Arena football owner: Rebuff by Steinbrenner won't alter plans

George Steinbrenner said Friday he has no plans to involve himself in Arena Football, but the owner of the Pittsburgh Gladiators said that won't have any impact on his plans to move the indoor football team to the Florida Suncoast Dome for the 1991 season. Bob Gries, owner of the franchise, had said Wednesday that he was negotiating to move it to St. Petersburg, that he had been in contact with Steinbrenner and that the former managing general partner of baseball's New York Yankees had expressed an interest in speaking further about playing a role in the running of the team.

Steinbrenner said he has known the Gries family for years. Bob Gries' father is part-owner of the NFL's Cleveland Browns. "When young Bob called me," Steinbrenner said, "I told him, "Send it (information on the Gladiators) along. I'll take a look at it.' "I have no intention at this point of going ahead. It was more of a courtesy, looking at it. I couldn't be counted as one of those involved at this point."

Steinbrenner called Arena Football "an exciting game, like indoor soccer, because there's a lot of scoring. But like indoor soccer, it isn't a true game, not the real McCoy. They tell me that people who go to their games really enjoy it. But I couldn't tell you where or what any of the teams in the (Arena) league are."

Gries said Steinbrenner's apparent rebuff will not affect his plans to move the team. "It would be wonderful if he became involved. I think he'd have a lot to lend," Gries said from New York. "But it doesn't in any way affect my interest or decision about moving down there."

He also said his comment Wednesday that he expected to announce the move within five days "might be premature, based on the state of where (negotiations with the Dome) are."